Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots - John Markoff (2015)


In cases where quotes are not attributed, they are based on the author’s interviews.


  1.This distinction was famously made by Richard Stallman, an iconoclastic software developer who pioneered the concept of freely shared software.


  1.John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (New York: Viking, 2005), 282.

  2.Moshe Y. Vardi, “The Consequences of Machine Intelligence,” Atlantic, October 25, 2012,

  3.Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane, “Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work,”

  4.J. C. R. Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics HFE-1 (March 1960): 4–11,

  5.John Markoff, “Can Machines Think? Humans Match Wits,” New York Times, November 9, 1991,

  6.Jonathan Grudin, “AI and HCI: Two Fields Divided by a Common Focus,” AI Magazine, Winter 2009,

  7.John McCarthy, book review of B. P. Bloomfield, The Question of Artificial Intelligence: Philosophical and Sociological Perspectives, in Annals of the History of Computing 10, no. 3 (1988): 224–229.

  8.Kevin Kelly, Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization (New York: Perseus, 1994), 33–34.


  1.Jerry Kaplan, presentation at Stanford University Probabilistic AI lunch meeting, May 6, 2013.

  2.Defense Science Board, “The Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems,” U.S. Department of Defense, July 2012,

  3.James R. Hagerty, “A Roboticist’s Trip from Mines to the Moon,” Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2011,

  4.John Markoff, “The Creature That Lives in Pittsburgh,” New York Times, April 21, 1991,

  5.John Markoff, “Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic,” New York Times, October 9, 2010,

  6.“Electronic Stability Control Systems for Heavy Vehicles,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2012,

  7.John Markoff, “Police, Pedestrians and the Social Ballet of Merging: The Real Challenges for Self-Driving Cars,” New York Times, May 29, 2014,

  8.Lawrence D. Burns, William C. Jordan, and Bonnie A. Scarborough, “Transforming Personal Mobility,” The Earth Institute, Columbia University, January 27, 2013, http://sustainablemo

  9.William Grimes, “Philippa Foot, Renowned Philosopher, Dies at 90,” New York Times, October 9, 2010,

10.“Transportation and Material Moving Occupations,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

11.Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly, July 1, 1945,

12.Peter Norvig, keynote address, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Conference, Stanford, California, February 5, 2014.


  1.John Markoff, “Skilled Work, without the Worker,” New York Times, August 18, 2012,


  3.Norbert Wiener, Collected Works with Commentaries, ed. Pesi Masani (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 272.

  4.“Father of Cybernetics Norbert Wiener’s Letter to UAW President Walter Reuther,” August 13, 1949,

  5.Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, The Father of Cybernetics, Kindle ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2009), Kindle location 246.

  6.Anthony Carew, Walter Reuther (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1993).

  7.Conway, Dark Hero of the Information Age, 246.

  8.Stephen Meyer, “‘An Economic “Frankenstein”’: UAW Workers’ Response to Automation at the Ford Brook Park Plant in the 1950s,” Michigan Historical Review 28 (2002): 63–90.

  9.“Wiener Denounces Devices ‘For War’: M.I.T. Mathematician Rebuffs Bid to Harvard Symposium of Calculating Machinery,” New York Times, January 9, 1947.

10.Norbert Wiener, “A Scientist Rebels,” Atlantic Monthly, January 1947.

11.John Markoff, “In 1949, He Imagined an Age of Robots,” New York Times, May 20, 2013,



14.Carew, Walter Reuther, 144.

15.The Ad Hoc Committee on the Triple Revolution, “The Triple Revolution,” Liberation, April 1964,

16.Mark D. Stahlman, “Wiener’s Genius Project” (invited paper, IEEE 2014 Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century, 2014).

17.Steve J. Heims, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1980), 343.

18.Norbert Wiener, God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964), 29.

19.“Machines Smarter Than Men? Interview with Dr. Norbert Wiener, Noted Scientist,” U.S. News & World Report, February 24, 1964,

20.Defense Science Board, “The Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems,” U.S. Department of Defense, July 2012,

21.John Maynard Keynes, “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” in Essays in Persuasion (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1963), 358–373.

22.Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era (New York: Putnam, 1995), xvii.

23.John Markoff, “Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software,” New York Times, March 4, 2011,

24.Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against the Machine (Lexington, MA: Digital Frontier Press, 2011).

25.Paul Beaudry, David A. Green, and Ben Sand, “The Great Reversal in the Demand for Skill and Cognitive Tasks,” NBER Working Paper No. 18901, National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2013,


27.James Manyika, Susan Lund, Byron Auguste, and Sreenivas Ramaswamy, “Help Wanted: The Future of Work in Advanced Economies,” McKinsey Global Institute, March 2012,

28.Robin Harding, “US Has Lost 2M Clerical Jobs since 2007,” Financial Times, April 1, 2013,

29.Melody Johnson, “Right-Wing Media Attack Obama for Accurate Remarks on Business’ [sic] Investment in Automated Machines,” MediaMatters for America, June 15, 2011,

30.“Are ATMs Stealing Jobs?” Economist, June 15, 2011,

31.Ben Sumers, “Bank Teller Case Study” (unpublished, 2012).

32.Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2014), 127.

33.Jaron Lanier, Who Owns the Future? Kindle ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014), Kindle location 222–230.

34.Tim O’Reilly, Google+, January 9, 2014,

35.Matthieu Pélissié du Rausas, James Manyika, Eric Hazan, Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, and Rémi Said, “Internet Matters: The Net’s Sweeping Impact on Growth, Jobs, and Prosperity,” McKinsey Global Institute, May 2011,

36.“The Last Kodak Moment?” Economist, January 12, 2012,

37.Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (New York: Penguin Books, 2006).

38.“The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era,” VISION-21 Symposium, NASA Lewis Research Center, NASA technical reports, NASA CP-10129, March 30–31, 1993, larity.html.

39.Robert Geraci, Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, reprint edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

40.Moshe Y. Vardi, “The Consequences of Machine Intelligence,” Atlantic, October 25, 2012, nology/archive/2012/10/the-consequences-of-machine-intelli gence/264066.

41.Moshe Y. Vardi, “If Machines Are Capable of Doing Almost Any Work Humans Can Do, What Will Humans Do?” (white paper presented at Innovation 4 Jobs Conference, Menlo Park, California, 2013).

42.Author telephone interview with Moshe Vardi, May 9, 2013.

43.“IFR: Robots Improve Manufacturing Success & Create Jobs,” press release, International Federation of Robotics, February 28, 2013,

44.Robert J. Gordon, “Is US Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds,” Policy Insight 63 (September 2012), Centre for Economic Policy Research,

45.Robert J. Gordon, “The Demise of U.S. Economic Growth: Restatement, Rebuttal, and Reflections,” NBER Working Paper No. 19895, February 2014, National Bureau of Economic Research,

46.“Robert Gordon, Erik Brynjolfsson Debate the Future of Work at TED 2013,” TED Blog video, April 23, 2013,

47.Robert J. Gordon, “Why Innovation Won’t Save Us,” Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2012,

48.Gordon, “The Demise of U.S. Economic Growth.”

49.Craig Trudell, Yukiko Hagiwara, and Jie Ma, “Humans Replacing Robots Herald Toyota’s Vision of Future,” BloombergBusiness, April 7, 2014,

50.Stewart Brand, “We Are As Gods,” Whole Earth Catalog, Fall 1968,

51.Amir Efrati, “Google Beat Facebook for DeepMind, Creates Ethics Board,” Information, January 27, 2014,

52.“Foxconn Chairman Likens His Workforce to Animals,” WantChina Times, January 19, 2012,

53.“World Population Ageing 2013,” Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, (New York: United Nations, 2013)

54.“Robot Caregivers Help the Elderly,” Digital Agenda for Europe, A Europe 2020 Initiative, May 5, 2014,

55.Jeffrey S. Passel and D’vera Cohn, “U.S. Population Projections: 2005–2050,” Social & Demographic Trends, Pew Research Center, February 11, 2008,

56.“Baby Boomers Retire,” Pew Research Center, December 29, 2010


  1.David C. Brock, “How William Shockley’s Robot Dream Helped Launch Silicon Valley,” IEEE Spectrum, November 29, 2013,

  2.David C. Brock, “From Automation to Silicon Valley: The Automation Movement of the 1950s, Arnold Beckman, and William Shockley,” History and Technology 28, no. 4 (2012),


  4.John Markoff, “Robotic Vehicles Race, but Innovation Wins,” New York Times, September 14, 2005.

  5.John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (New York: Viking, 2005).

  6.Pamela McCorduck, Machines Who Think: A Personal Inquiry into the History and Prospects of Artificial Intelligence, 2nd ed. (Natick, MA: A K Peters/CRC Press, 2004), 268.

  7.Ibid., 273.

  8.Brad Darrach, “Meet Shaky [sic], the First Electronic Person: The Fascinating and Fearsome Reality of a Machine with a Mind of Its Own,” Life, November 1970.

  9.Charles A. Rosen, “Robots, Productivity, and Quality,” SRI, Artificial Intelligence Center, technical note no. 66, May 1972.

10.Nils J. Nilsson, The Quest for Artificial Intelligence, 2010, 77, web version,

11.Margaret Boden, Mind as Machine (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006), 381.

12.AI@50, Dartmouth College Artificial Intelligence Conference, July 13–15, 2006.

13.Boden, Mind as Machine, 381.

14.John McCarthy, book review of B. P. Bloomfield, The Question of Artificial Intelligence: Philosophical and Sociological Perspectives, in Annals of the History of Computing 10, no. 3 (1998).


16.Nilsson, The Quest for Artificial Intelligence, 77.

17.AI@50, Dartmouth College Artificial Intelligence Conference, July 13–15, 2006.

18.Interview with John McCarthy, Stanford University, July 19, 2001.

19.Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984).

20.Interview with John McCarthy, Stanford University, July 19, 2001.

21.Raj Reddy, “Celebration of John McCarthy’s Accomplishments,” Stanford University, March 25, 2012, YouTube,

22.Arthur L. Norberg, “An Interview with Bruce G. Buchanan,” June 11–12, 1991, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota,

23.Hans Moravec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 20.

24.John McCarthy, “A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence,” August 31, 1955,

25.William J. Broad, “Computer Scientists Stymied in Their Quest to Match Human Vision,” New York Times, September 25, 1984,

26.John McCarthy, “Programs with Common Sense,” Stanford University, 1959,

27.“The Dynabook of Alan Kay,” History of Computers,

28.Robert Geraci, Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, reprint edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 2.

29.John Markoff, “John McCarthy, 84, Dies; Computer Design Pioneer,” New York Times,

30.Hans Moravec, “Today’s Computers, Intelligent Machines and Our Future,” Stanford University, July 21, 1976,

31.Hans Moravec, “The Role of Raw Power in Intelligence,” May 12, 1976,

32.Moravec, “Today’s Computers, Intelligent Machines and Our Future.”

33.Markoff, What the Dormouse Said.

34.Les Earnest, “Stanford Cart,” December 2012, http://www.stan


36.Sheldon Breiner, “The Background Behind the First Airport Gun Detector,”

37.Robert Reinhold, “Reasoning Ability of Experts Is Codified for Computer Use,” New York Times, March 29, 1984.

38.Jonathan Grudin, “AI and HCI: Two Fields Divided by a Common Focus,” AI Magazine, Winter 2009,

39.Daniel Crevier, AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence (New York: Basic Books, 1993), 203.

40.Edward Edelson, “Expert Systems—Computers That Think Like People,” Popular Science, September 1982, 58.



43.United Press International, “New Navy Device Learns by Doing,” New York Times, July 7, 1958.

44.John Markoff, “Researchers Announce Breakthrough in Content Recognition Software,” New York Times, November 17, 2014,

45.Alex Rubinsteyn and Sergey Feldman, “NIPS and the Zuckerberg Visit,” Explain My Data, December 11, 2013


  1.Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, “Cyborgs and Space,” Astronautics, September, 1960,

  2.David A. Mindell, Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight, Kindle ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), Kindle location 1850.

  3.Ibid., Kindle location 352–364.

  4.Craig Covault, “Space Leaders Work to Replace Lunar Base with Manned Asteroid Missions,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 19, 2008,

  5.Slide deck courtesy of Edward Feigenbaum.

  6.Morten Thanning Vendelo, “From Artificial Intelligence to Human Computer Interaction—An Interview with Terry Winograd,” Association for Information Systems, SIGSEMIS Bulletin 2, no. 3 & 4 (2005),

  7.Terry Winograd lecture, “Filling in the ‘H’ in HCI,” mediaX 2013 Conference, January 8, 2013.

  8.John Markoff, “Joseph Weizenbaum, Famed Programmer, Is Dead at 85,” New York Times, March 13, 2008,

  9.David W. Dunlap, “Looking Back: 1978—‘Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu,’” Times Insider, New York Times, November 13, 2014.

10.Terry Winograd, “Procedures as a Representation for Data in a Computer Program for Understanding Natural Language,” MIT AI Technical Report 235, February 1971, 38–39,

11.Hubert Dreyfus, “Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence,” RAND Corporation, 1965,

12.Hubert Dreyfus, “Why Heideggerian AI Failed and How Fixing It Would Require Making It More Heideggerian,” http://leidl

13.Dreyfus, “Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence.”

14.Seymour Papert, “The Artificial Intelligence of Hubert L. Dreyfus: A Budget of Fallacies,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Project Mac, Memo. No. 154, January 1968,

15.Vendelo, “From Artificial Intelligence to Human Computer Interaction.”

16.Roger C. Schank and Robert P. Abelson, Scripts, Plans, Goals, and Understanding: An Inquiry into Human Knowledge Structures, Artificial Intelligence Series (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1977).

17.Searle presentation before CS22 Introduction to the Philosophy and History of Artificial Intelligence, Stanford, October 25, 2013.

18.Arthur L. Norberg, “An Interview with Terry Allen Winograd,” December 11, 1991, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota,

19.Sergey Brin, Rajeev Motwani, Lawrence Page, and Terry Winograd, “What Can You Do with a Web in Your Pocket?” IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 21, no. 2 (1998): 37–47,

20.Terry Winograd, “Shifting Viewpoints: Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction,” Artificial Intelligence 170 (2006): 1256–1258,

21.Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, “Knowing ‘What’ to Do Is Not Enough: Turning Knowledge into Action,” California Management Review 42, no. 1 (1999).

22.Ben Shneiderman, “List of Influences: Ben Shneiderman,” eagereyes, December 16, 2011,

23.Tandy Trower, “A Parting Salute to Cliff Nass—Social Interface Pioneer and Good Friend,” Hoaloha Robotics, November 19, 2013,

24.Tandy Trower, “Bob and Beyond: A Microsoft Insider Remembers,” Technologizer, March 29, 2010,

25.Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital (New York: Vintage, 1996), 101.

26.Ben Shneiderman and Pattie Maes, “Direct Manipulation vs. Interface Agents: Excerpts from Debates at IUI 97 and CHI 97,” Association for Computing Machinery Interactions, November-December 1997,



  1.Rodney Brooks, Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us (New York: Pantheon, 2002), 28.

  2.Ibid., 29.

  3.Ibid., 31.

  4.Rodney Brooks, “Elephants Don’t Play Chess,” Robotics and Autonomous Systems 6 (1990): 3–15,


  6.Brooks, Flesh and Machines, 31.

  7.Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984), 132.

  8.R. H. MacMillan, Automation: Friend or Foe, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1956), 1.

  9.Levy, Hackers, 130.

10.Lee Felsenstein, “The Golemic Approach,”,

11.Ibid., 4.

12.Evgeny Morozov, “Making It,” New Yorker, January 13, 2014,

13.“Lee Felsenstein and the Convivial Computer,” Convivial Tools, July 23, 2007,

14.Lee Felsenstein, “The Tom Swift Terminal; or, A Convivial Cybernetic Device,”,

15.Dennis Liu, “Office 2010: The Movie,” YouTube, July 9, 2009,

16.Steven Sinofsky, “PM at Microsoft,” Steven Sinofsky’s Microsoft TechTalk, December 16, 2005,

17.“The Lumiere project: The Origins and Science Behind Microsoft’s Office Assistant,” Robotics Zeitgeist, 2009,

18.Lexi Krock, “The Final Eight Minutes,” Nova, WGBH, October 17, 2006,

19.Jessica Marshall, “Victory for Crowdsourced Biomolecule Design,” Nature, January 22, 2012,

20.Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2011), 101.

21.Miriam Steffens, “Slaves That Are Reflections of Ourselves,” Sydney Morning Herald, November 19, 2012,

22.Daniel Crevier, AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence (New York: Basic Books, 1993), 58.

23.Ken Jennings, “My Puny Human Brain,” Slate, February 16, 2011.


  1.Stuart Nathan, “Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics,” Engineer, February, 22, 2010,

  2.Public Information Office, “Fact Sheet on ‘Simon,’” Columbia University, May 18, 1950,

  3.Ivan E. Sutherland, letter to Grey Walter, November 10, 1957,

  4.Daniel Lovering, “Radioactive Robot: The Machines That Cleaned Up Three Mile Island,” Scientific American, March 27, 2009,

  5.John Markoff, “The Creature That Lives in Pittsburgh,” New York Times, April 21, 1991,

  6.Marvin Minsky, “Telepresence: A Manifesto,” IEEE Spectrum, August 31, 2010,


  8.Gill A. Pratt, “Robot to the Rescue,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 3, 2013,

  9.“2013 DARPA Robotic Challenge Trials Overview,” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,

10.Singularity Hub, “Industrial Perception Robot Arm Box Toss,” YouTube, April 17, 2013,

11.“Guidelines for Scientific Research,” Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, March 2011,

12.Charlie Rose, “Amazon Unveils Futuristic Plan: Delivery by Drone,” 60 Minutes Overtime, December 1, 2013,

13.DARPAtv, “Darpa’s Pet-Proto Robot Navigates Obstacles,” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, October 24, 2012,

14.Hans Moravec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 15.

15.Eric Berger and Keenan Wyrobek, “PR1 Robot Cleans a Room,” Salisbury Robotics Lab, Stanford University, 2007, YouTube,

16.“The Hopkins Beast,” Field Robotics Center, 1960,


  1.John Markoff, “A Free and Simple Computer Link,” New York Times, December 8, 1993,

  2.Danielle Newnham, Mad Men of Mobile: Leading Entrepreneurs and Innovators Share Their Stories, from SIRI to SHAZAM, Kindle ed. (Seattle: CreateSpace, 2013), Kindle location 129.

  3.Ibid., Kindle location 137–139.

  4.John Sculley and John A. Byrne, Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future (New York: HarperCollins, 1987).

  5.David Greelish, “An Interview with Computing Pioneer Alan Kay,” Time, April 2, 2013,

  6.Gordon E. Moore, “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits,” Electronics 38, no. 8 (1965), 114–117.

  7.Paul Pangaro, “‘Getting Started’ Guide to Cybernetics,”,

  8.J. J. O’Connor and E. F. Robertson, “Andrew Gordon Speedie Pask,” School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St. Andrews, Scotland,


  1.Claire Cain Miller, “Technology, Aided by Recession, Is Polarizing the Work World,” New York Times, July 22, 2014,

  2.Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Employment Projections to 2022,” December 2013,

  3.Zeynep Tufekci, “Failing the Third Machine Age: When Robots Come for Grandma,” Medium, July 22, 2014,

  4.Louise Aronson, “The Future of Robot Caregivers,” New York Times, July 19, 2014,

  5.Ken Goldberg, “Robots with Their Heads in the Clouds,” Aspen Ideas Festival 2014, Medium, August 25, 2014,

  6.“Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics + the Zeroth Law,” March 1942, Jeremy Norman’s,

  7.Defense Science Board, “The Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems,” U.S. Department of Defense, July 2012,

  8.John Markoff, “Already Anticipating ‘Terminator’ Ethics,” New York Times, November 24, 2013,

  9.Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Wired, April 2000,

10.Eric Horvitz and Bart Selman, “Interim Report from the Panel Chairs,” AAAI Presidential Panel on Long-Term AI Futures, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, August 2009,

11.Mark Prigg, “Google Sets Up Artificial Intelligence Ethics Board to Curb the Rise of the Robots,” Daily Mail, January 29, 2014,

12.Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (1982; Burbank, CA: Warner Bros.).

13.Leon Neyfakh, “Do Our Brains Pay a Price for GPS?” Boston Globe, August 18, 2013,